In the process of making food or drink, especially mass-produced by machine, the accuracy of the end products can be a bit skewed. Because certain colors are associated with certain flavors, and vice versa, food coloring was introduced in acknowledgment to its correlation to perceived flavors. Coloring has also been added to mask color loss, aid food identification, and for decoration, as in cake icing. Food Coloring even existed in the times of early Rome, when saffron, carrots, pomegranates, grapes, mulberries, spinach, beets, parsley, and flowers were employed as dyeing agents.
Seven Major Food Color Additives
Today, because of chemical advances, not only are more vibrant and often superfluous colors available, but the usage of these chemicals is far more widespread. Often on a list of ingredients, one can find “for color” rather easily.
Brilliant Blue FCF
Brilliant Blue FCF creates a medium blue shade, it can be found in some dairy products, sweets, and drinks. Brilliant Blue FCF uses coal tar as one of its components. Because of the use of coal tar, many organizations and circles are speaking out and boycotting products using colors with coal tar because it is carcinogenic in large quantities, known to cause tumors in lab rats.
Fast Green FCF
Fast Green FCF, can be used for tinned green peas and other vegetables, jellies, sauces, fish, desserts, and dry bakery mixes at level of up to 100 mg/kg. Fast Green FCF produces a sea green.
Sunset Yellow FCF
Sunset Yellow FCF, this dye is an orange coal tar-based food dye found in orange squash, orange jelly, marzipan, Swiss roll, apricot jam, citrus marmalade, lemon curd, fortune cookies, sweets, hot chocolate mix and packet soups, trifle mix, breadcrumbs and cheese sauce mix and soft drinks. It is the color most prominently seen in Dayquil
Indigo Carmine is commonly added to tablets and capsules, but is also used in ice cream, sweets, baked goods, confectionery, and cookies. Also known as Blue No. 2, the color was extracted originally from several species of plant as well as one of the two famous Phoenician sea snails or from woad, but nearly all indigo dye produced today for food or textile is synthetic.
Allura Red has the appearance of a dark red powder. Allura Red can be found in sweets, drinks and condiments, medications, and cosmetics. Despite the popular misconception, Allura Red AC is not derived from the cochineal insect. Red AC is derived from coal tar.
Tartrazine is used for yellow coloring, but can also be used with Brilliant Blue FCF or Green S to produce various green shades. Tartrazine can be found in soft drinks, instant puddings, flavored chips (Doritos, etc), cake mixes, custard powder, soups, sauces, Kool-Aid, ice cream, ice lollies, candy, chewing gum, marzipan, jam, jelly, marmalade, mustard, horseradish, yogurt, noodles, pickles, and other pickled products, certain brands of fruit squash, fruit cordial, chips, Tim tams, and many convenience foods together with glycerine, lemon and honey products.
Erythrosine is a cherry-pink coal tar-based food dye. It is also used in printing inks, as a biological stain, a dental plaque disclosing agent, and a radiopaque medium. It is used in cherries, canned fruit, custard mix, sweets, baked goods, and snack foods.